Currently reading

I’m slowly emerging from my middle-of-the-semester fog. Many teachers find the last couple weeks of the semester to be the worst, but I have the hardest time during the middle. It’s in the middle that I spend lots of hours writing comments on papers and helping students improve their work. At the end of the semester I get the chance to say, well, you learned it or you didn’t, end of story. That’s much easier and less time-consuming. So I still have grading to do, but I find it goes by quickly and I have more and more reading time.

I also have more time because I’m spending fewer hours on the bike because … I reached my goal of 5,000 miles! I finished up on Tuesday. I plan to ride some over the next couple weeks, but only now and then, and nothing difficult or terribly long. In January I’ll start thinking about next year’s racing, and in the meantime, I’m spending more time on the couch.

So, about my “currently reading” list. I just finished The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart, which is the latest selection for my mystery book group. We will meet in a week and a half to discuss it, and I’ll write a post soon. For now I’ll just say that … it wasn’t my favorite that we’ve read for the group. Not by a long shot, in fact. It should be interesting to discuss!

With that book finished, I’m returning to Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley. I’m not quite halfway through the book, and I’m very grateful that it finally, finally picked up the pace a bit. The first 150 pages or so were pretty dull. Brontë introduces some potentially interesting situations and characters, but she doesn’t do much with them. The focus keeps shifting in such a way as to diffuse any tension she has built up, and there is just no spark or energy. But finally Shirley herself arrives, and at that point, things begin to improve. Now there are some interesting dynamics among the characters, including a love triangle, and I’m more content at the thought of the 350 pages or so I have left.

I also picked up a volume of poetry once again. I haven’t read much poetry this past year; I finished up the Wallace Stevens volume I began the previous year, and I read my friend’s chapbook, and that’s it. I decided it was time to return to the genre, and so I picked up the Faber collection of Ted Hughes’s poetry I have on my shelves, part of their Poetry Classics series. The books are beautiful, but I wish they had more information about each poem. There is an introduction by the editor, but nothing to tell you when each of the poems was published and in what collection. The upside to this is that you are left with just the poem itself; there is something satisfying about confronting the words alone. But I’m someone who likes to know a little more contextual information, especially about which poems were published originally in which books. There might be connections among poems that become clearer if the reader knows they were published together.

But still, the books are beautiful, and I’m looking forward to reading further.

9 Comments

Filed under Books, Cycling, Life, Teaching

9 responses to “Currently reading

  1. You could do with something fabulous in the mix there, Dorothy, particularly if you finally have a little more time on the couch. I quite agree I do like my poetry with a little context. Many congratulations on reaching your cycling goal – you are amazing!

  2. Congrats on reaching your cycling goal! So next year are you going to aim for 6,000 miles? ;) Some context for the poems would be nice especially since when poems are published in a collection they tend to speak to each other and have a very definite order. Taken out of that they might still be very good, but I agree with you that they lose a little something.

  3. Congratulations on the cycling! That is awesome. I have a stack of books to read. A new one just arrived from my publisher, and I’m looking forward to getting to them.

  4. Congratulations!!! Now you can take a little time off the bike, and soon off from school, and enjoy your books. I’ve not read Ted Hughes, but his name keeps popping up on the poetry shelves at the used book shops. I’ll be interested to read what you think!

  5. Yea for reaching your goal! I’m plodding my way through The Yellow Room. Not one of my favorites for this club either, despite having so much promise with its Maine setting.

  6. Congrats–5000 miles is really impressive. Too bad about the Mary R Rinehart–she sounds like she could be fun, but maybe this was just the wrong book. I’m looking forward to hearing about it. I hate to admit it, but one thing that I recall from reading Shirley is that at times it was a bit of a slog. Still there were some very good parts and she does deal heavily in the social issues of the day. Very different than Jane Eyre (in terms of how the stories move).

  7. Dorothy, you inspire me. I haven’t done 5 miles let alone 5,000. I guess first I need to get a bike…duh. I was having the same problem with Armadale by Wilkie Collins that you were having with the Bronte book. But, after 200 pages and 400+ to go, the pace has picked up and it seems like the good old Wilkie I know and love. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the classics, and hang in there with them longer than I would a contemporary work. Probably not a good thing, but…

  8. Litlove — thank you! Perhaps we’ll both fall in love with some books over the next few weeks. Wouldn’t that be great?

    Stefanie — actually, my goal for next year is to not be so obsessed with goals! :) 6,000 miles would be pretty difficult, I think. Doable, but difficult, and not something worth going for.

    Bardiac — thank you!!

    Lilian — I hope you enjoy your stack of books — what a lovely thing to have :) And thanks about the cycling. I’m enjoying my celebratory time on the couch as much as I can.

    Debby — thank you! I’m definitely looking forward to some more reading time. I’ve read and enjoyed Ted Hughes in the past; he has some really interesting poems about animals and a fascinating way of writing about nature.

    Emily B. — yes, the Rinehart did sound intriguing, and I was interested to hear about the Maine setting. But she’s just not doing much interesting with that setting or with the plot, for that matter. Oh, well — good to know, right?

    Danielle — I AM enjoying learning about the social issues of the day — the technology stuff is interesting, and Bronte has a lot to say about the status of women. I like Shirley’s character a lot. But she sure does take her time! She’s not afraid to stop the action for little side stories here and there, and they get old. I suppose I see good things in the book, but it feels uneven. I’m curious about the Rinehart, whether her other books are like this one, or whether others are better.

    Grad — having a bike does help :) I’m so glad to hear the Collins has picked up and that he has returned to form. I’m more willing to be patient with older books too; they tended to move at a slower pace generally, and there is generally a reason they are still in print!

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